Yaya Toure is one of the finest central midfielders of the 21st century.
Across his prime with Barcelona, Manchester City and Ivory Coast, Toure was close to unstoppable on the ball with his dynamic passing, underrated dribbling, Herculean strength and intelligent play.
However, even the legendary midfielder might admit himself that he didn’t bring down the curtains on his time in the professional game in quite the fashion that his glorious career deserved.
Final years of Toure’s career
While Toure did stick around at the Etihad Stadium under Pep Guardiola long enough to bag a third Premier League title, game time proved very hard to come by under the Spaniard’s reign.
As such, the Ivorian embarked on a stop-start coda to his career where he made five appearances for Olympiacos, before his contract was terminated and rumours of retirement swirled around.
But there was to be a last dance for the Africa Cup of Nations winner with Toure following the trend of players who had largely plied their trade in European football making the move to China.
Toure’s time with Qingdao Huanghai
However, unlike some of the other players to answer China’s call, Toure wasn’t set to play in the Chinese Super League when he agreed a deal with Qingdao Huanghai in the summer of 2019.
That’s because Qingdao were competing in China League One, which is the second tier of the nation’s football pyramid, when they acquired the four-time African Footballer of the Year.
According to Transfermarkt, Toure went on to amass a record of 14 appearances, two goals and three assists in the league for Qingdao before departing on New Year’s Day 2020.
Video of Toure in China’s second tier
But despite picking up a red card just 10 seconds into what has hitherto proven to be his final match in professional football, Toure enjoyed a largely successful spell as Qingdao won promotion.
And footage of Toure’s brief stint in the Asian nation goes to show that he used some of the most impressive and devastating traits that we came to expect from him in Europe over in the Far East.
In fact, one particular video of Toure’s Qingdao highlights paints a very clear picture of the standard of Chinese’s second division at the time, so be sure to check out the remarkable clips down below:
Toure looked completely in his element!
Standard of Chinese football
While many of the clips didn’t lead directly to goals or assists, it couldn’t be any clear from the video that Toure’s footballing brain, as well as physical prowess, overwhelmed the players around him.
The Ivorian legend might well have been past his sell-by date by the time he closed out his career with Qingdao, but it’s clear that he had a whale of time dominating possession and dictating play.
The standard of Chinese football has been treated very harshly and shallowly in recent years, but there’s no denying that the Toure footage is some of the most stark that we’ve ever seen.
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Similar highlights packages have emerged of players like Alexandre Pato and Hulk during their time in the country with some fans coming to the conclusion that the Super League isn’t up to scratch.
Whether you think that’s the case or not is up to you to decide, but regardless of the answer, we can surely all agree that Toure looked to be having the time of his life in the Chinese second-tier in 2019.